Uncaged: Welcome to Uncaged! Your newest release, A Portrait of Dawn will release April 8th. Can you tell readers more about the book and the series, The Sawtooth Range?

The Sawtooth Range Series has evolved from a western stand-alone of a woman frontier doctor to a family saga. Comes the Winter is a traditional romance introducing Lena Sommer and Evan Hartmann who complement each other, becoming the characters who now anchor the series. In Redeeming Lies, the Hartmann’s purchase their ranch north of what is now known as Sun Valley, Idaho. A Portrait of Dawn takes place one year later when the Hartmann’s welcome their first guests. My intention with the series is to continue to build an ensemble cast where guests come to the stunning beauty of the Big Wood River and the magnificent Sawtooth Range to fall in love under the magic of the landscape. Additionally, I will continue to introduce historical figures who appear in cameo roles, hopefully anchoring the stories in time and real place.

Uncaged: You are very passionate about researching the western history of the U.S. and readers can go to your blog to read up on some of that research. Is your love for the western history what inspired you to write?

I’ve been writing stories since I entered Dick and Jane’s storied world in first grade – great characters – flat plots. My interest in western history sparked when I moved after college graduation to take a teaching position in Arizona. Weekend hikes through the desert washes and wild mountains allowed my imagination to run free. It was also the first time I hiked packing a six-gun, because rumors of crusty, protective prospectors abounded in the Superstition Mountains. It was a transformational time for a girl raised between corn fields in the flat farmlands of the Midwest. Later, as I traveled through Idaho and Oregon along the iconic pioneer trail, my fate was sealed as a western writer. Landscapes inspire my writing spirit. The pistol I carried in Arizona was stolen, but my son replaced it with a lever-action rifle with my name engraved on the stock. What a great gift!

Uncaged: What are you working on now that you can tell us about?

Another intriguing setting is the Washington state San Juan Archipelago. The islands between British Columbia and the U.S. share a long history of smuggling, of both humans and goods. A Light from Friday Harbor is set in the prohibition years and is part mystery and part love story. I’m currently writing the sequel set in 1939 as England stands on the brink of war with Germany. While some hold onto the fading hope of a negotiated peace, the reality soon makes clear to all that war is inevitable. It’s the theme of the novel. Conflict and seasons of life take us to places we’d rather not travel. Ultimately, it is the story of acceptance and resilience. The Wisdom of Songbirds should be complete by the end of 2020.

Read the rest of the interview in the issue below.

Samantha St. Claire divides her time between her homes in Idaho and the Olympic Peninsula. Traveling along the old Oregon trail provides her with the wild landscapes and historic inspiration for this exciting new series, The Sawtooth Range. Her own pioneer roots have stirred her interest in the early settlements of Idaho and Montana.

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A Portrait of Dawn
Samantha St. Claire
Historical Western Romance

“The greatest thing a human being ever does in this world is to see something . . . to see clearly is poetry, prophecy, a religion all in one.” – John Ruskin
Dawn’s future looms before her like a blank canvas, and only through the artist’s eyes will she see her true self and find the courage to paint the first stroke.

It’s 1890 and Idaho Territory is celebrating statehood. The event will draw two individuals who, like the new state, must redefine and prove themselves. While the artist, Luke Brennan, is captivated by Dawn Fairburn’s bewitching, jade-green eyes and brilliant mind, the world characterizes her as less than an acceptable model of womanly perfection. Both are lacking in society’s estimation, he for his Irish heritage and she for her deformed leg, but together they may prove them all wrong. Like the new state, their combined strengths will give them the courage to step into the wilderness of their uncertain future.

Excerpt

Unbridled Imaginations
“The greatest thing a human being ever does in this world is to see something . . . to see clearly is poetry, prophecy, a religion all in one.” John Ruskin

JUNE 24, 1890
For a future yet to be written, an unbridled imagination is a dangerous thing. Although Dawn held to such philosophical convictions, as she turned to her slumbering father sitting beside her, she allowed herself to travel that treacherous path leading her thoughts to notions of what might be.
Even in sleep, with his chin nodding gently against his chest in easy rhythm to the rocking motion of the train, he looked dignified and even . . . presidential. Dawn smiled to herself, pleased by the notion. She considered her father’s pleasing features, his strong, square jaw, the touches of gray giving him that suggestion of experience and wisdom that could build confidence in his constituents. She pressed her lips together and lifted one eyebrow a slight degree higher than the other. Why not? Her skin prickled at the image. If he could go from legal counsel to the next U.S. Senator for New York, why not President? And she would be the one to help put him there.

Dawn shifted in her seat, frowning. Mr. Pullman’s train cars were a definite improvement from those wooden seats of early years when she and her father traveled from New York to Washington. But comfortable, they were not. She envied his ability to fall asleep so effortlessly—the benefits of a man with a clean conscience.

She reached down to retrieve her father’s brochure from the floor, the one he’d read to her with such enthusiasm moments before he’d fallen asleep. Now, with the campaign before him, why did he insist on this trip into Idaho Territory? They needed to be planning, not traipsing off to the frontier for . . . Reading the advertisement again, she felt a scowl pinch her brow.

Come to the Hartmann Ranch where you can experience the frontier ranching life.

As the train rounded a bend, the view from her window shifted to the east, the direction from which they’d been traveling since yesterday morning. Streaks of palest yellow heralded the break of day. It should have cheered her as it usually did, but unlike her usual day of ordered routine, this one held too many uncertainties. She looked down at the twisted brochure still gripped in her hands. The word adventure peeked between her fingers. It wasn’t a word that often appeared in her vocabulary. Adventure conjured up images of safari hunters in wild, foreign lands.

Dawn lowered her head to her father’s shoulder, breathing in the familiar scent of his pipe tobacco and starched collar. How could she ever remain impatient with him? With a skill she’d honed since earliest childhood, she focused her thoughts on this moment. In this moment, she was blissfully content. Tomorrow was yet to be. With luck, she would see the adventures only from the windows of a rolling train.

From the train window, the indistinct reflection appraised the serious young woman with green eyes. Dawn had been told often enough they were the same shade that made her mother so attractive. But unlike her mother, Dawn lacked the golden locks. Her brown hair favored her father’s, as did the firm line of her jaw. And like her father, her thoughts rarely strayed from her duty to support and serve.

Read the rest of this excerpt in the issue below